The Landscape of Destiny
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objection to such racist explanations is not just that they are
loathsome, but also that they are wrong. Sound evidence for the
existence of human differences in intelligence that parallel human
differences in technology is lacking. In fact, modern "Stone Age"
peoples are on the average probably more intelligent, not less intelligent,
than industrialized peoples. Paradoxical as it may sound, white
immigrants to Australia do not deserve the credit usually accorded
to them for building a literate industrialized society. In addition,
people who until recently were technologically primitive -- such
as Aboriginal Australians and New Guineans -- routinely master industrial
technologies when given opportunities to do so.
we have to wonder. We keep seeing all those glaring, persistent
differences in people's status. We're assured that the seemingly
transparent biological explanation for the world's inequalities
as of A.D. 1500 is wrong, but we're not told what the correct explanation
is. Until we have some convincing, detailed, agreed-upon explanation
for the broad pattern of history, most people will continue to suspect
that the racist biological explanation is correct after all.
the truth, simply stated, is that history followed different courses
for different peoples because of differences among peoples' environments,
not because of biological differences among peoples themselves.
the notion that environmental geography and biogeography influenced
societal developments is an old idea. Nowadays, though, the view
is not held in esteem by historians. It is considered wrong or simplistic,
or it is caricatured as environmental determinism and dismissed,
or else the whole subject of trying to understand worldwide differences
is shelved as too difficult. Yet geography obviously has some effect
on history. The open question concerns how much effect, and whether
geography can account for history's broad pattern.